Freshman Spencer Barks, a 6-foot-10-inch, 225-pounder from Poolesville, has been impressive in pre-season basketball practices at Maryland and is expected to see significant playing time this season, according to new coach Mark Turgeon.
Barks, who starred in high school at St. Alban’s in Upper Northwest after starting high school at Bullis in Potomac, is one of five ‘walk-ons’, or non-scholarship players, who may wind up playing crucial roles for the Terrapins this season.
During a conference call with sports writers earlier this week, Turgeon acknowledged that all five of the walk-ons will get playing time this year. That’s a highly unusual situation in the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of the nation’s premier basketball circuits.
It’s the largest group of walk-ons Turgeon has ever had on his team in his 15 years of college coaching. “We’re going to have to play some walk-ons this year. That’s the bottom line,” he said in the conference call.
For Barks playing ACC basketball for Turgeon and the Terps represents both a dream come true and a touch of poetic justice tossed in for good measure.
That’s because a phone call from Turgeon to legendary Gary Williams helped Barks get a shot to play at Maryland.
Coming out of St. Alban’s, Barks was strongly considering committing to play at the University of New Hampshire which had recruited him. Then, for unexplained reasons, the New Hampshire coaches stopped calling and their interest in him seemingly waned.
That’s when Turgeon, then coaching at Texas A&M but with good connections in the DC area basketball world, called Gary Williams to see if he’d take Barks as a walk-on.
“In those three days that New Hampshire stopped talking to me, Turgeon called up Gary Williams to see if I wanted to walk on,” Barks told the Baltimore Sun. “Obviously, I couldn’t turn down a chance to play at Maryland.”
Barks was a two-time All Interstate Athletic Conference (IAC) selection averaging 11 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Bulldogs. He graduated in June after playing for former Maryland star Duane Simpkins who has since moved on to a college coaching post at Towson.
As things have turned out due to injuries and eligibility issues, Maryland is entering the season with only six players on athletic scholarships. All of which opens up some great opportunities for Barks and his walk-on teammates.
Spencer Barks, regarded as one of the best high school rebounders in DC last year, could be an early season surprise for the Terps.
Maryland opens its season Friday night (Nov. 4) in an exhibition game against Northwood at Comcast Center and then hosts UNC Wilmington in the regular season opener on Nov. 13.